Thyagaraja was the greatest among the music composers of South India and one of the musical prodigies of all time. He was the father of modern Carnatic music and his works are full of deep, soul stirring spirituality, sweet melody and extremely artistic flavour.
As a child Saint Tyagaraja was already remarkable for his predilection for music having the gift for composing, and wrote his first song when he was hardly 13.
Soon he reached the loftiest pinnacle of musical fame and composed the grandest devotional songs ever written. He composed two music plays as well of incomparable beauty.
The Aaraadhana is held every year on the day the Saint attained final emancipation. This annual music festival is conducted by ‘Sri Thyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha’ and is held in the precincts of the Samadhi (memorial) of the Saint located at Thiruvaiyaru village in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.
During early days, they did not allow women artists to perform during the Aradhana festival. In those days, the only women who sang or danced in public were the Devadasis or temple performers / dancers. They did not permit even Nadaswaram performances in the festival.
Bangalore Nagarathnamma was precisely such a temple performer, and one of the most famous professional concert artistes of her era.
Nagarathnamma, who was then residing in Madras, was an ardent devotee of Tyagaraja and an aficionado of his music.
The soulful rendition of his Kritis (Compositions) had been the mainstay of her career throughout her life, and she considered that she owed her considerable wealth to his grace.
In 1921, the aged and childless lady decided to dedicate her life’s earnings to preserving Tyagaraja’s legacy and perpetuating his memory.
Bangalore Nagarathnammal spent the rest of her days in Tiruvayyaru and bequeathed all her wealth to the Tyagaraja memorial, with the stipulation that women be allowed to pay their homage without any hindrance.
When she died in 1952, she was buried close to Tyagaraja’s memorial and a statue was erected on the spot. The statue directly gazes on Tyagaraja’s memorial.
A huge complex is now under construction at Thiruvaiyaru at this site to accommodate the large audience that come to the concert in ever-increasing numbers every year.